June 29, 2015
When Twitter started to gain popularity in 2009, West Virginia University student Chris Luzader had just begun his freshman year of high school in Flatwoods, West Virginia.
“In a town of 200 people, technology was my way out of where I grew up. The idea of Twitter was pretty amazing to me. By just sitting in my chair, I could talk to somebody literally a world away in less than a second, and that was incredible,” he said.
Luzader’s fascination with technology grew as he got older, and by the time he began his Twitter account, he’d been writing for a few blogs dedicated to technology news and reviews of different products.
“I figured I would try to capitalize on what Twitter offered, and what I was good at,” Luzader said.
Luzader did research and found a service that would monitor the RSS feeds from a lengthy list of websites that he programmed it to monitor. The service would recognize that new articles had been posted, and generate tweets to be sent out from his Twitter account, @TechZader – a practice that is common in recent times, but was not as widely known for social media usage in 2009.
“Initially this was solely for me; I didn’t expect anybody to care about what I was publishing, and it was just a way for me to make my blogging a little bit easier,” Luzader said. “Eventually, though, I made my tweets public on the off-chance that someone were to see them and end up following @TechZader for constant updates.”
Within just a few weeks, Luzader saw his followers grow from just a handful to more than 1,000 followers.
“That was hard to fathom – that 1,000 people decided to click the ‘Follow’ button and use what I provided them,” Luzader said.
From that point, Luzader began to interact with the people that followed him and routinely held conversations with people from across the world. These interactions sparked a change in Luzader, once a self-proclaimed introvert.
The 1,000-follower count soon turned into 10,000, and continued to soar. Soon enough, small-town Luzader suddenly stood out among the millions of Twitter users as a thought leader, smooth sailing with more than 30,000 followers and counting.
In 2011, Luzader was featured in PC Magazine’s Twitter Top 100 at number 20 among celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Katie Couric, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Lady Gaga, Neil Patrick Harris, Oprah, Kanye West, Perez Hilton and more. This recognition led to even more followers, as well as tweets of his being featured on CNN.
“At one point, I held Twitter conversations with William Shatner, John Cusack and the actor who played Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens),” Luzader said. “It was insane to me that a kid from Braxton County was accomplishing these things.”
Upon coming to WVU’s College of Business and Economics in 2013, Luzader decided to relinquish his anonymity on @TechZader and make his Twitter account more personal to himself and his daily life.
“Being active on social networks brought me out of my shell, but coming to college made me grow up even more in terms of finding myself and how to interact with others. When you come from a town with 200 people, you don’t get that much interaction,” Luzader said. “Talking to someone face-to-face is much different than typing to somebody on a social network.”
As he prepares for his junior year as a finance major, Luzader has not yet determined how Twitter will fit into his ultimate career goals, though his activity on social media and knowledge of technology did land him a marketing assistant job with The Princeton Review during the school year.
Luzader has also utilized his skills within his extracurricular activities at WVU. As a member of Delta Sigma Pi, he serves as web master and social media manager for the group, and handles any additional technology-related tasks.
Today, Luzader has more than 35,600 followers on @TechZader and continues to curate content to inform his followers of the latest news in technology.
“I would really like to have my own company someday. I feel as though my Twitter expertise, combined with the education I’m receiving from B&E as well as my internship and extracurricular experiences, will help me achieve that goal,” Luzader said. “In the short term, I’ll have to do some thinking as to how I can utilize my various skills in the finance field that I’ve chosen. Nothing is impossible.”